Maybe I don't like your politics, but your grandkids are adorable

Anne O'Connor
Anne O'Connor: "These aren't earth-shattering details. But life isn't usually made up of earth-shattering details."
Submitted photo

Anne O'Connor is a speaker, writer and editor in Viroqua, Wis. (For a contrasting view, read Susie Eaton Hopper's commentary, "Who do you like more, Mom? Me, or Facebook?")

Life is better with Facebook.

Molly has a friend over and she says, "Let's laugh so hard that we have tears in our eyes."
Anne O'Connor Facebook status update, May 20, 2011.

I spend time on Facebook almost every single day of my life, reading snippets of people's lives, perusing links suggested by my friends, looking at new baby pictures, wishing my friends well on their birthdays, seeing what party I'm invited to, what community event is happening on the weekend, or watching a video of some poignant happening in the world.

All of this comes to me courtesy of a website that is committed to fostering a space for people to grow their communities. All of it comes completely free of charge.

The night air is gentle, the stars seem far away.
May 11, 2011.

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Oh, I know ... I can almost hear you pshawing out there. Facebook — bah! Facebook — phooey! Facebook — snicker.

I know, I know. I used to scoff at Facebook, too. Several years ago, when Facebook first came on the scene, I was immediately skeptical and standoffish. I circled around it, watching as more and more of my friends (real-world friends only, at that point) invited me to this strange place. I struggled against it for a bit. Put my picture up online? Why would I ever want to do such a thing? How could this be safe? How could this possibly be a good use of my time?

I do believe that I prefer cigarette smoke over the smell of pesticides on my walk. And I'm no fan of cigarette smoke.
Sept. 9, 2011.

I am careful with my time. I've got four kids, three still at home. I run my own business, and I have an enormously rich offline life. I belong to a women's group, a book club, a writers' circle, a food buying club, a school community and a weekly group that gets together to consider our lives. I take my kids to the library, sometimes several times a week. I walk outside with friends, and bake cookies with my kids. I shop at my local coop and believe in sustainable, family-owned farms. I believe that organic foods are better for you. I literally eat granola for breakfast. Granola that I make myself, of course.

The perfect pear is a celebration of good timing.
Sept. 18, 2011.

This is just to say that whatever you think about people who use Facebook, you may want to broaden your perspective.

For example, despite being a writer and staring at a computer screen much of the day, I am a believer in limiting screen time. My kids aren't on Facebook, except for the one adult. I don't own a television. I can count on one hand the movies I've watched in the past year. I couldn't pick out the stars of "Grey's Anatomy" in a line-up. People sometimes say, "Have you seen that commercial where the guy says ... " And no. No, I haven't.

But that's the great thing about Facebook. With 800 million active users, you're going to find your people. And when you do, Facebook becomes an extension of the community you've created off-screen. I'm connected to artists and writers and people who cook and create in their lives.

I'm just not going to worry, because I'm pretty sure that every little thing is going to be all right.
Aug. 23, 2011.

FB is a good way to find out what's happening in the neighborhood. When a sonic boom shook the region, people were all over Facebook, figuring out what happened, together. Or when protests rocked Wisconsin's Capitol, Facebook's organizing capabilities were kicked into high gear. Ask students in Cairo for more about the clear advantages of this aspect of FB.

Well-loved and grateful.
Sept. 12, 2011.

One thing that cracks me up is the Facebook posts complaining about ... Facebook. It's become routine for some to rant about Facebook's privacy issues and frequent format changes. I'm puzzled by this. Here you are on this really cool thing that someone has designed so that you can show us your beautiful kids or promote your show or whatever, and you're taking this opportunity ... to complain?

It's not like you're paying for it, people. It's not like someone is requiring you to spend a certain amount of time on FB. It's not as if this was your idea and someone has gone and screwed it all up. Yes, there are privacy issues; yes, there are annoying ads. So what?

Facebook is a free service that has connected so many people that it's the second most popular website in the world (behind Google). In eight short years, Facebook has changed the world. How about "Thank you?" How about, "Wow, isn't this cool?" How about if you don't like it ... don't use it?

Molly on our walk today after smelling some flowers: "All the flowers are losing their petals, leaning their heads next to each other and whispering that winter is coming."
Sept. 29, 2011.

But if you do use it, good things are likely. Having a Facebook feed is a like having your very own news service, created for you by people of your own choosing. Bizarre sometimes? Certainly. And irrelevant, and caustic, and inane, and just plain mean? Yep, that too. Do we sometimes wish that some of our friends might be a bit more discreet? Sure.

And ... so what? We also get to see what's important to people, what they'll speak up about, what kind of music they listen to (Yes to Spotify, too, btw). We also get beauty and kindness and affection and more birthday greetings than we ever thought possible. When I see an acquaintance around town who has become an active FB friend, I know just a bit more about who she is, and how she lives her life. I may know that she struggles with her kids sometimes, just like me. Or that she likes the full moon, as do I. Or that her favorite cake is carrot.

Something is seriously wrong when my mother has to pay taxes and General Electric doesn't.
April 17, 2011.

These aren't earth-shattering details. But life isn't usually made up of earth-shattering details. It's made up of small ways that we connect with each other. It's made up of relationships built on ways that we can see ourselves in each other. Even if I don't like your politics, I may find your grandson adorable. And seeing you as a grandfather helps me see more of you.

The world could stand to have people appreciate each other a bit more. And Facebook makes that easier to do.

Refocused, clear, and ready for everything. Yes, I'll take it all. Thank you.
Sept. 5, 2011.